Random Runners is a very tempting proposition.

Ravenous Games, best known for League of Evil, Random Heroes, and Gravity Duck, has taken its pixel-art run-and-gun formula and applied it to an auto-runner, in the same vein as Rayman Jungle Run and Kid Tripp.

So in each assault course-style stage your pintsize hero automatically dashes from left to right while you handle jumping, sliding, and firing guns.

During the breezy, minute-long levels you'll be leaping over punji stick pits, sliding under spikes on strings, shooting zombies of various sizes, and dodging gun turrets and land mines.

You'll also be collecting coins, gems, and stars along the way, and doing that classic League of Evil jump.

Run for your life

It seems like a good idea, but the game sadly falls down at every hurdle.

Most pernicious is the level design, which is often totally cheap. It's so unfair that you can legitimately blame half of your deaths on the game makers rather than on your own pitiful reaction speeds and diminishing inability to excel at video games

The game also has an unwelcome element of grind, as certain elements of it are simply not much fun until you've collected a bag of coins and upgraded your weapon or character.

The weapons that can dispatch nuisance enemies immediately, for example, cost lots of coins. You're forced to suffer with crap guns, like weak pistols and slow-loading shotguns, for a long time

Plus, the default character has a pathetic jumping arc which makes it impossible to reliably jump over those hateful spikes that roll down hills, or soar over most pits unless you leap off from the very last pixel.

The upgrades aren't expensive enough to drive you to the in-app purchases - you'll have a suitable character and gun after only a little grinding. The whole thing just serves to make your brief time on this earth a tiny bit worse than before you purchased this game.

Slide to unlock

There are also countless annoying little mishaps that exist merely to make the game even less enjoyable. Like the way you can't avoid hanging spikes if you've just slid down a wall, or the way zombies have a lag between being killed and exploding into a shower of guts so you don't know if you're safe to run through them.

The touch areas for the buttons are very small and stingy, too, and they're hard to read when you're going at speed.

So at the end, when you finally cross the 'finish' line on a given level, it doesn't so much feel like a triumph of skill. It feels like a win for grinding and good luck, and there's a general relief that the whole sorry affair is finally over for another level

Shoot me now

The game is also generally uninspired and fails to bring anything new to the genre. And while we're at it, that cute pixel-art visual style that Ravenous has been depending on for several years now feels bland and boring. Mix it up a bit, guys.

Random Runners is a bit of a shambles. And while a few thousand tweaks and complete level design overhauls might stop it from being frustrating, nothing much can be done about the fact that this game is just dreadfully boring at the best of times.